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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Local scout executive responds to membership change

  • By Jan. 1, no young scout will be denied members to the Boy Scouts of America based on their sexual orientation.
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  • By Jan. 1, no young scout will be denied members to the Boy Scouts of America based on their sexual orientation.
    Mike Johnson, Scout executive for the Quivara Council, which includes McPherson’s Troop 117, said the effects of those changes are yet to be determined.
    “We’re looking at what, if any, changes will need to take place,” he said. “It’s still being analyzed.”
    The decision was made for troops across America after the Boy Scout National Council voted by a 61 percent majority on May 23 to allow openly homosexual youth into scouting ranks.
    Johnson said the resolution is one that assesses behavior, not sexual orientation, and condemns any Scout that engages in inappropriate sexual behavior, whether it be of a homosexual or heterosexual nature.
    “This is about behavior, and what’s best for kids,” Johnson said. “Any sexual activity is inappropriate.”
    During a survey, the majority of the Quivira Council responded in favor of the resolution, saying it was unacceptable to deny a youth his Eagle Scout award based on an admission he is gay.
    The Boy Scouts of America still does not grant membership to open or avowed homosexuals who wish to be employees, volunteers or adult members. If an openly homosexual Scout wished to take on a leadership or volunteer role within the Scouts, he would still be denied the opportunity.
    Johnson said the change has not yet been made for adults due to the unknown effect it will yet have on youth.
    “This issue is one of the most highly debated in our time,” he said. “People everywhere have strong opinions for both sides. The effects it will have on our youth are still unknown.”
    The Quivira Council conducted a survey of its 219 chartered organizations, to see what the response would be to the new change in membership policy. Of those who responded, 18 expressed support for the resolution, eight did not support the resolution and five were neutral.
    While the respondents to the survey are kept confidential, some have come out with official statements on the change.
    A.J. Smith, president of the Association of Baptists for Scouting, said scouting is still an effective outreach ministry of the church, but the church must be more directly involved in Scouting.
    “Churches must take a proactive approach to Scouting and involve members of the local congregation alongside Scout parents as leaders,” he said.
    Ed Martin, national chairman for the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, said open homosexuals engaging in homosexual conduct are counter to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Martin said the National Catholic Committee will review the potential changes that may or may not need to be made.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The NCCS will determine how it may impact Catholic chartered Scout units and activities,” he said. “In doing so, we will work with the teachings of our Catholic faith and with the various local bishops and their diocesan Scouting committees.”
    Joseph Tuszynski can be reached at jtuszynski@mcphersonsentinel.com, or follow him on Twitter @JoeTSentinel.
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